Red Eyes

Today I learned that old women in some parts of Africa, and by old women I mean women about my age which is 52, who have red eyes from years of cooking and tending the fire in poorly ventilated houses are often accused of witchcraft. These women, who are nearly always widows, are at the very least turned out of their homes by those who want to take away their meager possessions, and at worst burned alive.

When I heard this I wondered if the women accused of witchcraft in Europe and colonial America in the 17th century had red eyes too. Probably they did.

How women look has always affected their self-worth and how well they do in the world. Beauty is an advantage and aging is hard. Lately, it seems that every decision I make about how to spend my time and energy directly impacts how I look and feel, physically and psychologically. When I was younger my body took care of itself and I never had to do anything special to live up to the expectations of those who had expectations concerning my appearence.  Now I think a lot about how to appropriately deal with my 52 year old body. I’d like to write about what I’ve been thinking here, and am not sure about how self-revelatory I want to be.

I am not very happy with my body these days and I hate the way I look. I have gained some weight. My feet hurt all the time and so do my knees. I have lupus, SLE, so I cannot rely on my body to get me through what I want to do on any given day. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and think and wonder why other women can walk all around NYC in flip flops without a second thought and I envy them. But I also think about women who suffer so much more than I do, and my concerns about body image seem trivial even though I cannot seem to let them go. I would like my experience to help me in a little way to stand with my sister who has red eyes, but that seems too much to hope for. I guess the real question is, can I accept the/my body that is a product of the way I choose to spend my time and energy and can I make sure that I spend my time and energy on what is really important.

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